In a crucial step by North Korea on Saturday, Kim Jong Un announced the suspension of further nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests in the country. The announcement raised hopes in the US and South Korea for a breakthrough in the upcoming nuclear negotiations. The decision to halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches were particularly welcomed by US President Donald Trump. The declaration also came ahead of talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and ahead of the eagerly-awaited encounter with Donald Trump himself.
Within minutes of the report being issued, Trump tweeted: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit.” While South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday said in a regular meeting at the Blue House. “North Korea’s decision to freeze its nuclear programme is a significant decision for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”
However, one big gap in the North’s weapons program is that there is no proof that Pyongyang will not re-enter the vehicle that can carry a nuclear warhead to a US target on an ICBM without breaking up in the atmosphere, the US officials said.
Let’s take a look at how Kim’s promises of no more nuclear or missile tests will affect US and South Korea. Also, how the denuclearisation strategy pushed South Korea to switch off propaganda broadcasts across the border with North Korea:
• Kim on Saturday told the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party that North’s nuclear testing site was no longer needed.
• Kim said the North had successfully developed its arsenal, including miniaturising warheads to fit them on to missiles.
• Kim declared that “no nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now”.
• Pyongyang’s declaration to halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches – which was long sought by Washington – will be seen as a crucial step in the fast diplomatic dance on and around the Korean peninsula.
• However, Pyongyang has not proven it has a reliable re-entry vehicle that can carry a nuclear warhead to a U.S. target.
• Kim offered no sign he might be willing to give up what he called the North’s “treasured sword”.
• Kim said Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons was “the firm guarantee by which our descendants can enjoy the most dignified and happiest life in the world”.
South Korea switches off propaganda broadcasts
• Seoul welcomed the announcement and called it “meaningful progress” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
• South Korea halted the propaganda broadcasts it blares across the border with North Korea on Monday.
• The move is aimed to set a positive tone ahead of the first summit in a decade between their leaders as the US president cautioned the nuclear crisis was far from resolved.
• This is the first time in more than 2 years that the broadcasts were halted.
• The two Koreas agreed to a schedule for Friday’s summit in working-level talks on Monday.
• South Korea’s presidential Blue House said that North Korea had agreed to allow South Korean reporters in its part of the Joint Security Area at the border to cover the event.